Message From the Dean - April 2014

Passport/Travel Ready: Domestic and Global Inclusivity

Deans of colleges of education are being asked to do more           than ever — fundraising, influencing public policy, and responding to increasing scrutiny and changing expectations for teacher preparation and applied professions. However, at the heart of education is the curriculum of our programs. Tomorrow’s pre-professionals need to be prepared with the skills to educate, serve, and lead pertaining to issues such as poverty and inequity, race relations, technology integration, climate change, global inclusivity, and sustainable values that will make the world a better place.

I am an avid traveler, but this has not always been the case. I made my first domestic plane flight when I was 25 to visit my uncle in Pennsylvania and my first non-North American travel when I was 45 to Japan for a conference.  I did not have the opportunity growing up for such travel due to lack of funds, but mostly due to lack of exposure. 

An alumna provided funds for our library media program.  She said she was always fascinated by books because books took her places.  When she was young, she said, she had the energy and time for international travel, but no money.  When she was middle age, she had the energy and money, but no time.  As she grew older, she realized that she had the money and time, but no energy.  She provided funds so that young people could engage in the opportunities she could not.  I have spoken recently to college students and was surprised that many have not ventured outside of Iowa. 

I charge us to think about how we can engage our students in national and international travel experiences in order to enhance their domestic and global inclusivity skills.  When I was at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire, we would take students on domestic excursion experiences as a part of our Multicultural Education course which is equivalent to our Human Relations course. We took them to my hometown of Sumter, South Carolina, so that they could see White and Black teachers work in harmony together in supporting the learning of Latino, Black, and White students.  These mixed-race classes taught by teachers of color were an anomaly to them.  The students often commented on their own naivety about the South and race relations.  They said they only had examples of urban race diversity such as Chicago or Milwaukee.  We found that these environments left them with not so positive views of multicultural education.

This is just one example of the types of experiences that I think we should invest in as well as international experiences.  I want our faculty and students to be passport ready.  It is important that we provide our students these opportunities when they have the energy, time, and the provided/supplemented resources.  Think broadly about what we can do to make this happen for more of our students in the College of Education.

Dr. Dwight C. Watson, Dean

College of Education

University of Northern Iowa